Coming from an SEO background, it’s been quite a journey learning how to blog. Heck, I’m pretty much still on the road if you ask me! As much as SEO is highly related to Blogging I’m starting to understand that they are two different things. However, I know that a lot of the knowledge I’ve learnt from SEO has helped with my blogging. One of the sectors of SEO which I feel is highly relevant to blogging but most times is not emphasized as it should is Tag Optimization. So here’s me giving my two cents on optimising your tags to help your blog in its organic search.
There are lots of tags when it comes to SEO. Most content management systems like WordPress give you free reign over a lot of your tags, but others (like Blogger) do not. You literally have to go out of your way to change the way some of your tags appear. I’ll try to list some blogs which show you how to change some tags, but note, if you are not comfortable about getting your hands dirty with HTML and XML codes then do not do it!
On-Page Optimization Tags
Frankly, this is the mother of all tags. It’s very useful to help your search engine ranking. Most times your blog name comes first – that’s all well and good, but if your blog name is the same as your URL name then your wasting good keyword space. You want your post title to come first then your blog name.
Also, when you’re writing your title tag, remember that it is what is used as the title of your post for most social bookmarking and sharing plugins / sites. So if you have the TweetMeme plugin, for example, when people click retweet, your post’s title tag will go out in the tweet.
TweetMeme Uses the Title Tag When Sharing a Post
Blogger is notorious for not letting you do this! Here’s a code which shows you how to override it. Normally your title tags should be about 70-80 characters. If you can’t fit everything in there, put the most important keywords first. Anything more than 80 characters and Search engines would most likely cut off the rest.
Meta Tags (Keyword and Description)
These days, they’re pretty irrelevant but there’s nothing wrong in having it still. Sometimes your Meta Description is displayed as a brief summary on search engines results, called snippets. It should be catchy so people might actually click it to your blog. The limit is 150-250, so make it count.
For self-hosted WordPress blogs using Thesis, you can easily create meta tags and descriptions for your main homepage using the built in fields supplied with the theme through the Thesis Page Options and for your posts using the SEO Details and Additional Style section. For other themes, simply install plugins like Platinum SEO or All in One SEO.
If you are using Blogger, this is how you can create dynamic meta tags for your posts.
Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, …)
These days heading tags don’t really count as much as they used to, but its still nice to do things right. H1 tags for the topmost title and then reduce them as you go along. Avoid just increasing the font size for a heading, but tag it as a heading, or sub-heading, especially if there’s a keyword in it, and there should be too!
These are used to link to images and texts. Whatever you are using the anchor text for, its always best to add alt (alternative) text to aid the link description. It’s also a good idea to use rich keywords when using anchor tags, they’re really useful. For instance if you’re linking to your home page, it’s a good idea to use the keyword which you want to be found for, which is usually the title of your blog.
One great example is how commenters can use the KeywordLuv plugin to create great anchor text for their commenting URL.
With KeywordLuv, Link Uses Support Small Businesses as Anchor Text
Image tags, like anchor tags, should be used with alt keywords and rich descriptions. When naming an image, also consider giving it a nice keyword name not just the bland name like ‘pic001.jpg’ or something like that. That way the image stands a chance of ranking for that keyword in the search engine image results.
The above image name and tags are:
<img src="http://kikolani.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/image-tags-search-engine-optimization.jpg" alt="Image Tags for SEO" border="0" />
Generally, you don’t need to worry too much about this tag if your blog is being hosted but if you have access to edit this setting, its a good idea to do so. This tag is used for displaying a preferred page, as opposed to another. It’s mainly used for URLs like http://www.yoursite.com/ rather than http://yoursite.com/ or http://www.yoursite.com/ instead of http://www.yoursite.com/index.html – which ever you want. When this tag is used, your users get redirected to the page you prefer and it reduces lots of confusion for your uses.
In WordPress, this can be done simply in the General Settings page of the dashboard where you set the blog address (URL) and WordPress address (URL) fields.
These are the main tags which are relevant for blogs. On page optimisation might not get you more readers immediately but it helps increase your organic search ranking which provides more visitors in the long run. I think of it as laying a good foundation for a blog.
Your Tags for Optimization
Other than that, that is simply it for on page tag optimisation! Now was that easy or what? What about you? What other tags do you use to optimise your blog to get that ranking we all so desire?